Home / World / Asia-Pacific

ROK's Park seeks 'candid' talks with China on DPRK

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-10 02:27

Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye said during her US visit that she looks forward to having "very candid discussions" with President Xi Jinping about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, its nuclear weapons, and regional peace and stability.

ROK's Park seeks 'candid' talks with China on DPRK

The Republic of Korea's President Park Geun-hye gives a champagne toast during a welcoming luncheon with California Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at Getty House in Los Angeles, California May 9, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

In an interview with The Washington Post published on Wednesday, Park said she also hopes to be able to talk to Xi about the future of the DPRK if it decides against taking the "right path" toward becoming "a responsible member of the international community".

"In order for the DPRK to change, and in order for the Korean Peninsula to enjoy greater peace, the DPRK needs to choose the right path, and China should exert greater influence on inducing the DPRK to do so," said Park, who took office on Feb 25, less than three weeks before Xi became president.

Park said she believes China's "growth and development through reform and opening" offers a "very good model" for the DPRK to follow.

Beijing has tried for years to persuade the DPRK to pursue the policies of opening-up and economic reform that have made China the world's second-largest economy.

Park, the first female president of the ROK, is expected to travel to China soon. The 61-year-old leader has visited China several times before, including as chairwoman of the conservative Saenuri, or New Frontier Party, formerly the Grand National Party. Those trips included a meeting in 2008 with former president Hu Jintao and a 2006 address to China's Central Party School on the success of ROK rural reforms. Those 1970s initiatives, known as the New Village Movement, were launched by Park's father, Park Chung-hee, during his 18 years as leader of the ROK.

Well-liked Park

Park is well liked by the Chinese public for her ability to speak Mandarin and status as the first female head of state in Northeast Asia. Many people in both countries expect China-ROK relations to warm up after growing cool under Park's predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, whose tough stance on the DPRK stands in stark contrast with the trust-building process Park has outlined.

During a 1974 assassination attempt on her father, then-president Park Chung-hee, Park's mother was killed. Chinese media reports have said Park found strength after losing both her parents by reading works of Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan.

Regarding the US strategic rebalancing in Asia, Park said: "If the DPRK were to choose to become a responsible member of the international community and desist from provocations ... I am sure we would not need to see the strengthening of military postures in the region."

Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that while Park wants to send a message of strengthening relations and building trust with China, her center of gravity is the US-ROK alliance.

Park, whose five-day US trip ends on Friday, repeated to the Post her earlier-stated frustration with some Japanese officials' conduct regarding that country's behavior in World War II.

"The Japanese have been opening past wounds and have been letting them fester, and this applies not only to Korea but also to other neighboring countries," she said in the interview. "This arrests our ability to really build momentum, so I hope that Japan reflects upon itself."

Addressing a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday morning, Park said, "Those who are blind to the past cannot see the future.

"This is obviously a problem for here and now. But the larger issue is about tomorrow. For where there is failure to acknowledge honestly what happened yesterday, there can be no tomorrow," she said.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours